Causes of Falls and Fractures in Nursing Homes
When a senior suffers a fall there are a wide variety of unfortunate outcomes that may occur. While the obvious bumps, bruises, and broken bones may come to mind first, you may not consider infections from a scrape which can lead to a serious illness and even death. Nursing home abuse lawyers in Joliet can tell you all about these sad but typically preventable falls and fractures for they have experience in representing the victim or their family in court. Whether it is a negligent staff member or deplorable nursing home conditions, these accidents are unacceptable and the guilty parties must face legal consequences. Elder care lawyers will also fight to recover all medical costs. Please review the following information regarding falls and fractures in nursing homes.
Staff-Related Nursing Home Falls and Fractures
Insufficient supervision is one of the main causes of these accidents. Staff members are given clear instructions to monitor the entire population and some residents may require additional supervision to prevent such an injury. If a resident is left unattended or simply ignored for a long period of time, the opportunity for a fall rises dramatically. Nursing Home abuse attorneys in Joliet will work hard to research the incident and not only have the accountable staff member reprimanded but also fight to have them removed from the institution to avoid endangering others.
Building-Related Nursing Home Falls and Fractures
In a perfect world, nursing homes will be the ideal environment for the elderly to thrive in. But unfortunately for some, this is certainly not the case. Loose handrails, wet floors, and improper lighting can make a seemingly innocent walk down the hallway a treacherous path to an eventual fall or fracture. If a fall does occur your nursing home abuse lawyer in Joliet will always document the reason for the fall and use this as evidence in your case. The nursing home will ultimately be at fault and responsible for the medical costs incurred by the incident.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1) What kind of damages are available in a lawsuit based on a nursing home fall or fracture?
Nursing home negligence is one of the most horrifying offenses imaginable, yet unfortunately it is all too common. Although sometimes a nursing home accident is inevitable and is not anyone’s fault, it is the preventable nursing home injuries that justify personal injury lawsuits. When a preventable fall or fracture occurs, the damages that result can justify compensation, including:
- Medical expenses, including estimated future medical expenses and rehabilitation expenses
- Pain and suffering, which can be particularly intense in an elderly patient already suffering from other maladies
- Loss of quality of life due to a loss of mobility, especially if the injury is permanent or long-term
- Future disability and pain
2) Can I get medical records from the nursing home?
Yes, if you are the nursing home resident for which the records are being requested, or the legal representative. In fact, you have a legal right to them under federal law. “Medical records” includes both patient charts and clinical records. You must request these records in writing, and in most cases the nursing home must provide them to you within 24 hours (in some cases the nursing home may delay compliance for up to 30 days). Do not tell the nursing home why you are requesting the records, in order to discourage falsification or deletion of records.
3) How are nursing homes regulated in Illinois?
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is the state agency responsible for regulating the activities of nursing homes. The IDPH licenses, regulates and inspects the more than 1,200 nursing homes in the state of Illinois, and it can respond to a complaint with an investigation and remedial measures.
The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act is the state law that is enforced by the IDPH. It is specially designed to protect nursing home residents not only because it contains protective provisions, but also because it provides nursing home residents (and agents acting on their behalf) with the right to file a lawsuit for violation of its provisions. Certain rights are granted to nursing home residents that might not be available without the statute, including the right to collect reasonable attorney’s fees and the right to an injunction against the nursing home. An injunction is a court order forbidding the nursing home from performing certain acts or requiring it to perform certain acts.
4) What rights do nursing home residents have and how do they relate to falls and fractures?
The Nursing Home Care Act grants nursing home residents many rights, some of which are relevant to falls and fractures. These rights include:
- The right to be free from unnecessary restraints. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends against protecting nursing home residents from falls and fractures through the use of restraints, because it has concluded that restraints in most cases actually increase the likelihood of these accidents.
- Freedom from abuse and neglect. “Abuse” is defined as the intentional infliction of physical or emotional injury, while “neglect” is a form of passive abuse that involves a failure to perform necessary medical care or other assistance.
- The right to use your own doctor if you can afford one
- The right to refuse medical care unless it is necessary to protect others
- The right to communicate with your attorney
Any violation of these rights makes victory in court or at the settlement table more likely, as long as it was a substantial cause of the fall or fracture. If the nursing home neglected to bathe you frequently, for example, and you suffered a fracture while attempting to walk to the shower or by showering alone, the nursing home’s failure to bathe you often enough might be enough to support a lawsuit.
5) Can I still win a lawsuit against a nursing home even if a criminal prosecution fails?
Yes. In a criminal prosecution you must prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” while the standard of liability in a lawsuit is a “preponderance of evidence,” which means “more likely than not” or something like a 51 percent likelihood. In other words, you can still win a lawsuit even if the court considers it 49 percent likely that your claims are wrong.
6) Can I file a wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home if the patient dies?
Yes, as long as you have been named the personal representative of the deceased victim’s estate, and as long as you file the lawsuit within one year of the victim’s death. You must file the claim under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act rather than the Nursing Home Care Act. Wrongful death payouts can be quite substantial.
Contact a Compassionate Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Right Away
Time is of the essence so be sure to contact a nursing home abuse attorney in Joliet as soon as possible for the nursing home or staff member may try to tamper with evidence to avoid prosecution. All experienced elder care lawyers will want to get to work right away to collect as much evidence in your favor as possible. You may be the only one who can speak up for these victims, so do your best to find timely representation in any fall and fracture case.